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  04-01-2007, 07:17 AM
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Newsarama's Animated Shorts column has interviewed TMNT director Kevin Munroe, discussing how he got started in the animation business, how he got the job to direct TMNT, what works influenced his approach to the ninja turtles, and what it was like to work with the voice acting cast of the movie. He also discusses his next project: the CGI animated adaptation of the Gatchaman animated series, known to many American viewers as Battle of the Planets.

by Steve Fritz

Itís 10:00 p.m. and the phone rings. On the other end is Kevin Munroe, director of the new Turtles movie TMNT and heís calling from Hong Kong.

Thatís right. Hong Kong. As it turns out the man had a lot to say about his debut about a director. Letís not waste time and get right to it.

NEWSARAMA: OK. Your resume shows you wrote the scripts for Donner and Flying Freaks to this. How did you go from those two films to directing TMNT?

KEVIN MUNROE: Well, thatís the IMDB encapsulation. My background is more into design than it was with writing. My actual entry was actually character design. For instance I did design for the Nickelodeon show Hey Arnorld!. I did a lot of design for Nickelodeon, Warners and Disney, and more for development than production. Iím living proof that you can actually work for over a decade, make a decent living at it, everything you do will never see the light of day and nobody will know who you are. My career was a lot of that.

I think my biggest problem was the studios wanted to hook me up with other writers, but I was such a control freak I would constantly tell them I could do it and turning them down. So one day I finally decided that I was going to do a spec, and if it didnít do anything Iíd have learned my lesson. So I did that spec and immediately sold it to Stan Winstonís Studio. Next thing you know, I was developing shows, writing the pilot script and Bible and doing that for the next ten years.

Q: What were some others you worked on?

KM: Hey Arnold was one of them. I also worked on the Blues Brothers. I worked with a few comedians who wanted to do their own shows. I also developed a show for the Disney/Square game Kingdom Hearts. It would have been really cool and I was real happy. We did do a pilot, but one thing led to another. I also developed a show for the WWE that would have been a big action adventure at Warner Bros. I also worked on one based on a comic book called Jason & The Argobots.

Q: You actually did some comic books yourself, right?

KM:Yeah, I did some comics as well. I did one for Dark Horse called El Zombo and one for IDW called Olympus Heights.

Q: So how did you hook up with Imagi and the Turtles?

KM:About a 1 Ĺ years ago I got tired of living the same way but I also knew a lot of people. Now there are a lot of people like Imagi who want to do animation and become the next Pixar, but all theyíre really doing are pirated versions of Finding Nemo. They just donít get it.

I actually met Imagi over a project called Cat Tale, which really wasnít that inventive of a story. It was the tale of a cat, who was going to be voiced by Sean Astin, who thought he was a dog. I came in under the auspices of doing a rewrite of it. Thatís when I heard they were trying to get the film writes to the Turtles. When I heard that I told them they had to hire me because I loved them. It could be more than Over The Hedge with the Ninja Turtles. It could be dark and moody and big fun.

Q: More like the source.

KM:Right. So I pestered them every day about it. I think they finally gave me the green light to get them off their back. So I then went to meet Peter Laird because they told me that if I could get his blessing I would get the job. Lo and behold it happened!

Q: What was it like working with Laird? I mean I had met Kevin Eastman and the last time I met him I only wanted to punch him out.

KM:You couldnít have met a more opposite of a guy. Kevin and Peter are virtually night and day. Peter is just a normal guy. You would never know that he co-created this incredible franchise. Heís just th
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